When I pulled out of my driveway in Oklahoma and headed out for a new job in New York, it was my relationship with my nieces and nephews that I worried about the most. You see, I always wanted to be that aunt. The one who took you to movies. The one who invited you to spend the night — or the week. The one who thought you were perfect at 3, at 13 and even at 30. That aunt.

I decided early on that I wouldn’t let distance make me distant. So, here are 42 ways you can stay close, too.

Using books

For an older child, I sent books from the “Chronicles of Narnia” and then called to discuss them. For a newborn niece in another state, I created the Aunt Marketta Monthly Book Club. Each month a new book arrived for her library.

We’ve been known to read books on Skype, but I also recommend reading a book and uploading it to YouTube so your loved one can hear you reading anytime.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

And for those of you who are grandmothers, try “My Grandma & Me,” which is a 68-page, newly released devotional book by Crystal Bowman. It’s designed to be shared not just with the grandchildren on your lap but for your grandchildren everywhere.

Crystal Bowman

“Today’s Christian parents have a tougher job than I did,” Bowman told me, adding that Grandma and Grandpa and aunts and uncles need to reinforce values and spiritual lessons. “Children need to hear Biblical truths from more than just parents.”

Fun things to send through the mail

(I like to keep padded envelopes on-hand. That way I can get everything ready at home and then just run it in to the post office.) 

  1. Stickers

    Simple handmade card and a sheet of stickers

  2. Books. (Always check Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. I buy children’s books there for $2.29… and sometimes less!)
  3. Pictures from your town
  4. A toy from your childhood
  5. A toddler’s wallet that you make yourself. Learn more here.
  6. A card with your hand traced on it. Maybe add the book “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn.
  7. A page from a coloring book that you have colored. A page for your friend to color.
  8. Homemade cookies or a treat that’s unique to your location
  9. Gift card to McDonald’s
  10. Photo album of your family
  11. A bookmark. Here’s how to make one from the pages of a comic book.
  12. I-spy bottles that are easy-peasy to make

    I-spy bottle… formerly Diet Coke bottle

  13. Photo album that shows  a day in your life. (My best friend sent my boys a book she made about harvesting wheat, and they love it.)
  14. Candy kisses or hugs
  15. Paper banners for holidays, like this garland made of hearts
  16. Crayons — or better yet — crayons that are upcycled into fun shapes. Here’s how.
  17. Temporary tattoos
  18. Trading cards
  19. Video messages sent via cell phone or burned to DVD
  20. A file folder game for the pre-school crowd. You can customize your own (maybe a game where you match the name to the picture of the cousin) or download one of these super cute ones.
  21. Matchbox cars
  22. A series of cards or maybe pumpkin cut-outs that start with “I’m thankful for you because…”
  23. Finger puppets. (They are $1 at Michael’s or make your own bunny hand puppet using this tutorial. Perfect for Easter!)
  24. ABC book based on scriptures. Download. Print. Cut. Assemble. Enjoy.
  25. Magnet from your state
  26. CD of favorite songs
  27. Christmas ornament. Maybe buy two — one for you and one for your loved one.
  28. Calendar with handwritten notes, scriptures and jokes on it
  29. Lunchbox notes, slipped in with help from Mom or Dad
  30. Postcards when you travel
  31. Regular letters, sent in crazy cute envelopes you make yourself
  32. Tickets to a local museum or zoo
  33. Your favorite comic strip from the newspaper
  34. Deck of puzzle cards or flash cards

    Puzzle cards and flash cards from Dollar Tree

  35. Erasers in fun shapes
  36. Origami creatures
  37. Small notebooks or customized ones like these with their favorite characters
  38. Trace your head and arms to send a hug
  39. Jokes from places like Paging Supermom
  40. Craft supplies
  41. Shrinky Dink jewelry
  42. Puzzles. You can make your own with craft sticks.

P.S. Visit GiversLog.com for the happiest mail you’ve ever seen!